As an event and wedding photographer I gave up traditional camera straps a long, LONG time ago. There’s plenty of alternatives to camera straps, but what’s right for you is dictated by how you shoot, what you shoot, and what you like. The top three suggestions in 2024 for camera strap alternatives are the Spider Holster, the Holdfast Moneymaker Harness, and the Peak Design Capture Clip. But if you want to get rid of camera straps which option is best for you? I’ve tried all three on actual professional event and wedding photography shoots and there is only ONE that I can recommend – in fact I’ve been using this system for over a decade now and could never go back to camera straps – or either of the other two options listed.

Let’s take a look at how all three options work, the pros and cons for each option, and which one I recommend…

By the way the pictures are all from their official marketing, but all opinions are mine, and nobody has sent incentives or product samples. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, but this does not influence my recommendations in any way.

 

Should you get rid of your camera straps?

If you’re happy with your straps, why bother getting rid of them? The reason I was fed up of camera straps was two-fold:

Firstly, reducing shoulder weight. I typically carry two cameras when I’m shooting event photography and weddings – one with a long lens, one with a wide lens – and with regular camera straps I had a lot of weight on my shoulders. I’d also hunch my shoulders to stop the camera straps slipping off, which exacerbates shoulder pain by the end of the day. You can get rubbery non-slip straps but they just pulled my shirt out of shape.

Secondly, reducing faff. With two cameras on straps there’s a lot of swinging around and banging into things, plus a lot of tangling and untangling which led to missing a bunch of candid shots while I tried to free my cameras from each other.

Should you replace your own camera straps with one of the solutions presented below? It depends if you’re experiencing the issues I described above, and if they bother you often enough that you’re ready for something new. If you’re a hobbyist photographer you may not want or need to splash out on one of these options when you might just be better off with a more comfortable load-bearing strap.

But if you’re a professional event or wedding photographer you’re almost certainly going to feel some benefits by switching – especially on your shoulders.

 

The Spider Holster

Check the Spider Holster Pro system price on Amazon

SPIDER HOLSTER PRO - Review: Spider Holster vs Holdfast MoneyMaker vs Peak Design Capture Clip

 

Spoiler alert: this is my favourite solution and the one I’ve used for over a decade now. If you’re serious about getting rid of straps and/or getting the weight of your cameras off your shoulders this is my one and only recommendation.

Spider Holster make a few different products all based around the same basic system – a steel pin with a large ball head attaches to the bottom of your camera and slots into a clip mounted on your waist so that the camera hangs upside down at your side. After a couple of shoots you’ll be able to place one camera into its holster while picking up the other without needing to look down at all.

They can sit there freely, ready to be lifted out of the slot when you need them; or you can flick a switch to lock the pin in so it can’t accidentally slide back up the holster and fall off, very useful if you need to run to the next location! I lock them in when I need to run somewhere, when I’m in a crowd so they don’t get accidentally pushed up and out, if I’m regularly kneeling down to get shots, and when I’m shooting in public so they don’t get stolen from my belt. Other than that I tend to leave the lock disengaged.

They have three versions: Black Widow, for consumer point-and-shoot cameras; Spider Light Plates and Clips, suitable for mirrorless cameras with smaller lenses; and the full Spider Pro system, suitable for everything up to pro DSLRs and heavy lenses. The Black Widow holster is made of strong plastic so it’s fine for small consumer cameras but not really the best choice for bigger heavier cameras, or regular professional use. The best choice for professional photographers is the Light or the Pro which both use the heavy-duty metal holster. The main difference between the Light and the Pro models is the plate that attaches to the camera.

The Pro plate is reassuringly chunky, and adjustable in that you can have the pin on the left or right of the plate depending which side of your body the camera will hang, so that the hot-shoe always faces down the lens always faces backwards. This means if you have flash attached it’s always pointing down no matter which side of your belt you store the camera.

The Light plate is thinner and smaller, designed especially for mirrorless cameras without a battery grip attached, and it’s adjustable to leave access to the battery slot. The Light plate only has one pin position which allows your right-hand camera to hang as usual (lens back, hot-shoe down) but a camera on your left side will point the lens forward if you want the hot-shoe to face downwards – I use the Light system for my mirrorless X-T5 cameras and this has never been a problem for me.

Spider Holster pros

First and foremost, the single biggest reason I love the Spider Holster system is the freedom! No straps, no harnesses, no faff. I have complete freedom to put my camera wherever I need it to go – if I can reach it with my hand, the camera can go there too. And the cameras aren’t swinging around erratically, they’re always exactly where I left them – on my hips.

Second, the Spider Holster system gets ALL the weight off my shoulders. I can barely feel the cameras at all, even when fully loaded with battery grip and big lenses. If you go with clips on your actual belt, like I do with mirrorless cameras, then you may want to put your belt on a bit tighter than usual. Or you can just use their own padded belt system over your own belt.

These two pros don’t sound like much, do they? Trust me, they are everything. Freedom of straps and freedom from weight, that’s both my problems with straps solved.

Spider Holster cons

Firstly, you’ve probably already worked out that there’s nothing to catch your camera if you drop it, or miss the holster when replacing it. This sounded like a problem when I first tried the Spider Holster but I’ve been using this system for over a decade and I’ve only missed the holster once, and it was due to carelessness rather than inexperience. Don’t worry, the cameras survived, although a lens did need a little repair but worked fine for the shoot I was on.

One possible solution is to add a hand-strap to the camera as shown on their website, but this does add something else to catch on chairs etc as you squeeze past. And it could slightly slow down fast changes from one camera to the other.

Second, (and I’m being super picky here) is that your ‘width’ is increased by the two cameras on your hips so you have to be careful with tight table arrangements, going around corners, or through narrow doorways. Because the cameras are attached fairly rigidly rather than swinging on straps if you push through a gap and the camera doesn’t quite clear it they won’t be pushed backwards like they would on a strap – something’s got to give, and the main vulnerability is anything attached to the hotshoe as that’s the weakest point of your camera.

But you’d probably need to lift your cameras on straps or a harness to get past tight table arrangements too so really, this is kind of a wash on balance. In practice you’ll adapt to both these ‘cons’, and I know after over a decade using the Spider Holster system I’ll never, ever switch back to any kind of straps or harness.

 

Holdfast MoneyMaker Harness

I got mine in the UK from Rigu.

MM Gallery Landscape 3 - Review: Spider Holster vs Holdfast MoneyMaker vs Peak Design Capture Clip

I had high hopes for this system as it’s the one most photographers giving up standard straps go for, especially wedding photographers. The bad news is that having tried it on a handful of event and wedding shoots I absolutely loathe it. I actually found it was more frustrating than just using regular straps in some ways. But the reasons it didn’t work for me may not be an issue for you, so don’t write it off completely just yet.

There’s plenty of harnesses on the market but I think the Holdfast Moneymaker harness is easily the best looking one available, and appearances can be important especially at weddings. For example, the Black Rapid harness is very popular but I’ve always thought it looks a bit too ‘military’ with all its black nylon straps, clips, and D-rings. Very functional, and totally fine looks-wise for sporting events,for example, but kind of ugly on top of a nice wedding outfit. The leather Holdfast harness fits in a lot better with a wedding aesthetic.

The Holdfast Moneymaker harness is one long loop of leather that goes over your shoulders, loops straight down under your armpit, and crosses at the back. The cameras are attached to separate leather tethers that hang down under your armpits from strong metal loops. The main attachment is a hook clip that attaches to a metal D-ring you’ve screwed into your camera’s tripod socket, and for safety theres a separate tether that clips onto one of the strap eyelets on the side of your camera.

There’s a few different sizes available, all adjustable, and once you’re set up the cameras hang upside down and tend to naturally lie slightly behind you, halfway around to the small of your back – when you’re standing upright, that is. Once you start moving things can start getting a bit awkward, at least for me.

Holdfast Moneymaker pros

The only real benefit of a harness is that there’s no risk of dropping a camera on the ground. If you do drop one then so long as you’re standing up it’ll just fall by your side. It’s also great for getting a shot over a balcony, no need to worry about the camera slipping and plummeting twenty feet.

Because of this you don’t have to think so much about putting down one camera and picking up another – there’s no clip or holster to miss – just lower one camera, let it go, and grab the other. It saves around a second, and all the risk, when you’re swapping from one camera to the other in a hurry.

And because there’s no belt involved you’ve got more space on your belt for kit and lens pouches if you need them. Although personally I have room on my Spider Holster Pro belt for two pouches if I need them.

Holdfast Moneymaker cons

Firstly, the harness doesn’t solve the problem of cameras swinging around, and it’s this problem that almost kills the entire system for me. I hate my cameras swinging around. With the Spider Holster my cameras are at my hips and they’re going nowhere. With the harness I was always having to adjust my position to stop the unused camera swinging into a wall – or a guest’s head if they were sitting close by. Worse, left for a few minutes as I move around a shoot my cameras will often spin themselves around a few times so that the tethers wrap around the camera and need spinning back on themselves a couple of times when I come to use them again. This wasted so much time and led to me missing moments.

Secondly, you can’t hold your cameras more than about 1.5 feet from the side of the harness they’re attached to. If that sounds fine, measure it – I found it to be an infuriatingly short distance when I wanted to get the camera way over my head, or down to ground level even while kneeling. I literally could not completely outstretch my arm while holding a camera. I’m used to being able to reach out to put my cameras where I want to get the shot I want – which is effortless with both the Spider Holster system or even regular straps.

With the Moneymaker you can unclip a camera from the harness, fairly quickly in fact. But getting it re-attached is about five or six seconds work so you can’t suddenly swap back to your other camera quickly because it needs to be re-attached before you can put it down.

Third, while it does slightly diminish the weight on your shoulders, and stops you hunching your shoulders to keep the straps in place, the weight is far from completely gone; I still felt plenty of aches and pains after using a Holdfast for a whole wedding. And on a long hot wedding day the leather straps will also make your shoulders sweaty, so I found myself wanting to remove it for a break now and again, or at least adjust everything to let my shoulders breathe a bit. None of this is a problem with the Spider Holsters. 

And finally, because it’s a strap system if you have any other bags or pouches you want to sling across you during part of a shoot that’ll really get in the way of your cameras. You can attach some small bags and pouches to some of the spare D-rings on the harness but that’s more weight on your shoulders and more faff if you want to take the harness off for a while.

These things might not bother you at all but after less than half a dozen shoots with the Moneymaker I ran out of patience and never used it again.

Peak Design Capture Clip

You can get the Peak Design Capture Clip from Amazon here

 

I have a couple of Peak Design slings (love their 6L Everyday Sling for keeping my favourite Fujifilm lenses close on a shoot), so after seeing a few fellow photographers using their Capture Clip system I thought I’d give it a go myself.

The Peak Design Capture Clip is essentially the same principle as the Spider – a plate on the bottom of your camera attaches to a plate clip on your belt – or anywhere else you can attach that clip such as the front of a Peak Design pouch, or the shoulder strap of a backpack. The plate and clip slot together through angled grooves, rather than a ball-head pin sliding into a slot. Then the camera can’t be released without pushing a big button on the side, which itself can be locked and unlocked with a twist to prevent accidental release.

Peak Design Capture Clip pros

First, like the Spider Holster it gets rid of straps and puts the cameras on your hips – or wherever else you attach the clip.

Second, they’ve specifically designed it to attach to bag straps as well as belts – which is clever! So you could have it on a backpack strap on your chest, or you could attach it to one of their sling bags which actually have a strap specifically for this purpose.

Third, the Capture Clip plate on the bottom of the camera is flat and thin, so it doesn’t put your camera at a wonky angle when you set it down on a flat service. If you’re using the Spider Holster the metal peg on the bottom of the camera does leave it at a wonky angle, not that this has ever been a problem for me. But it might be important to you.

Peak Design Capture Clip cons

Firstly, despite the beautiful engineering, there’s one glaring, unfixable problem with the Peak Design Capture Clip which the Spider Holster doesn’t have: the way cameras attach to the clip means the hot-shoe always points outwards – away from your body, not down like on the Spider Holster system.

For this reason the Capture Clip seems to me unusable with a flash or one of those tall Pocket Wizard triggers attached. And even with just a shallow trigger such as a Godox X1 or X Pro, it’s sticking straight out at an angle that’s begging to be knocked off by narrow gaps or guests pushing past.

Secondly, the camera needs to slot sideways into the Capture Clip if it’s on your belt – see the third product shot above. If it’s on a vertical strap then you slot it downwards into the Capture Clip, but most people will have it on their belt. Even though the camera locks in and needs to be released by a button, the fact it slots in sideways feels unsafe to me.

The release button only needs to be pressed a little to unlock the camera, at which point it would be all too easy for the camera to be pushed sideways out of the plate and crash to the ground. Because it’s inserted sideways and not top-down, gravity could also play a role in it sliding out depending on your position.

But doesn’t the SpiderHolster have the same issue? Not really. Firstly the cameras have to slotted down into the 1-2 inch slot on the Spider clip; that means gravity is your friend because the only way out is to travel 1-2 inches back up. Also, if you activate the auto-locking mechanism on the holster it is almost impossible to unlock accidentally. The switch you need to raise is easily found by fingers in a hurry, but much too small to be accidentally unlocked, compared to the big handy button that sticks out of the side of the Capture Clip.

Thirdly, the cameras are even more rigidly attached to the clip, and therefore to you, than with the Spider Holster system. There is absolutely no give whatsoever once the cameras are clipped into the Peak Design Capture Clip. This might sound reassuring but can actually be a problem if your Capture Clip’d cameras get caught between a rock and a hard place while you move around. With the Spider Holster because the ‘capture’ element is a large steel ball slotted into a deep metal groove it means even when they’re locked into the holster there’s at least a bit of give, they can rotate around a little. So the Spider Holster design wins again.

My favourite replacement for camera straps is…

It’s no surprise: I just love the Spider Holster system. It gets all the weight off my shoulders (I can barely feel the cameras at all). I have complete freedom of movement when I’m trying to get my camera somewhere awkward. With flashes and triggers attached they point downwards rather than outwards. And cameras aren’t swinging around all day bashing into things. But everyone is different and I know people who swear by their Moneymaker harness, or their Peak Design Capture Clip. Unfortunately their downsides make them unusable for me in an event or wedding setting, which is most of my work.

I hope this help you make your own mind up about what to try, and if you have any questions just let me know in the comments below.